Sun Poisoning

Photoallergic reactions are a side effect of certain medicines that make your skin sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and provoke an immune reaction. For example, topical drugs like isotretinoin used to treat acne raise the risk of photoallergic reactions. Likewise, oral medicines, like hormonal contraceptives, may increase your skin’s sensitivity. This will look more like an allergic immune response—a rash—than a sunburn.

Symptoms are a severe skin rash, usually appearing several hours after going out in the sun. The rash may be itchy and include:

Check on your medications. Ask your doctor if anything you take might make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. For example, some acne medications, antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics, heart drugs, and birth control pills make skin more sensitive. So can some antibacterial medications and fragrances that go on your skin. In fact, there’s a host of products that can raise your sensitivity to sunlight.

Sun Poisoning

What Is Sun Poisoning

Sun Poisoning

Typically, a healthcare provider will conduct a physical exam and assess any redness and pain. They may also feel your skin to check for warmness, swelling, or itchiness. Based on the severity of those symptoms, the healthcare provider can tell the extent of your sunburn.

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Risk Factors

Sunburns happen when you expose your skin to the sun’s UV rays for a prolonged time. Sunburns may occur with or without sunscreen or other protective measures. Also, artificial UV rays, like those found in tanning beds, cause sunburns.

Sun poisoning isn’t exactly a medical diagnosis, Mary L. Stevenson, MD, a dermatologic surgeon at NYU Langone Health, told Health. Also, sun poisoning doesn’t involve actual poison. Instead, it’s a lay term for a really, really bad sunburn.

You can become severely sunburned if you stay in the sun a long time and don’t wear protection. You are more likely to sunburn if you have light skin and fair hair.

Sun Poisoning

Sun Poisoning: Symptoms, Pictures, Causes And Treatments

The very first thing to do when you notice a sunburn, severe or otherwise, is to get out of the sun. Then, assess the damage.

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How Is Sun Poisoning Diagnosed?

Both UVA and UVB cause sunburns, but UVB rays damage your DNA. When your DNA tries to repair itself, the body releases inflammatory markers. In response, your skin generates a red, painful sunburn.

Whether you call it a severe sunburn or a case of sun poisoning, here’s what you need to know about protecting and treating your skin.

Sun Poisoning Rash | LoveToKnow

Sun Poisoning: Symptoms, Pictures, Causes And Treatments

If the blisters cover a large portion of your body, see a healthcare provider right away. In some cases, you may need to go to the emergency room, especially if you have flu-like symptoms or are dehydrated. Healthcare providers may treat sun poisoning with intravenous (IV) fluids for rehydration. A specialist may provider additional care in a burn unit.

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Treatments for Sun Poisoning

Sun poisoning is a severe sunburn. The time you spend outside, your location, the time of day, and the weather may increase your risk of severe sunburns. For example, if you spend an afternoon outside at high altitudes, you may develop a more severe sunburn than usual.

There are different types of sun poisoning, including photoallergic or phototoxic reactions. The type of sun poisoning you develop depends on the cause and underlying risk factors. However, the most common cause of sun poisoning is simply spending too much time exposed to UV rays without the proper protection.

Five different forms of sun poisoning and their symptoms

Sun Poisoning Rash | LoveToKnow

Like photoallergic reactions, phototoxic reactions are also side effects of certain medicines, like retinoids. In contrast, the skin forms a rash that resembles a sunburn without significant UV exposure. A minimal amount of sun exposure can ignite a phototoxic reaction. Medicines that may cause a phototoxic reaction include tetracycline antibiotics and amiodarone. This will look more like an exaggerated sunburn.

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Photoallergic Reactions

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). PMLE is a reaction that does not appear to be linked to drugs or diseases. It happens in people who are at risk and who are exposed to intense sunlight that they’re not used to. For example, people living in northern climates could experience this if taking a winter vacation in a tropical climate.

Sun poisoning may also refer to two types of reactions to sunlight:

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